The Pharisee: My name is Simon. I invited Jesus to dinner. I am not sure what to make of Jesus. I have heard the stories of miracles and healings. I have heard some even call him a prophet. I doubt it, but I need to hear him firsthand so I can make up my own mind about him. This dinner will be just the occasion. Jesus accepts the invitation, and soon, we find ourselves reclining at the table, deep in conversation.
But then, unexpectedly, a women comes in the door of my house…uninvited. She walks right up behind Jesus and just stands there. She is not even wearing a head covering. What kind of woman is this? I stare at her, bewildered. Then a flicker of recognition. Oh…she’s that kind of woman. What is she doing here? Nobody moves. Except the woman. Her shoulders begin to shake. She is crying, no…weeping. She collapses down on the ground by Jesus’ feet. She doesn’t stop crying. This is getting awkward. Now she’s holding his feet in her hands. She’s sobbing over them and…now what? She’s kissing his feet. She reaches into her robe and pulls out a flask, it catches the sunlight streaming through the window. It is dazzling. Beautiful. Incredibly expensive. Where would she have gotten that kind of money? Oh wait…never mind. She breaks it in half over Jesus feet. The perfume pours out and runs over his feet, mingling with the dust from the dry roads that brought him here. Mingling with her salty tears running down his feet. She brings her face near his feet. She takes her long hair and begins to rub his feet. She wipes the perfume, the tears into his feet. She kisses his feet, still weeping. What is going on here? Why is he allowing her to touch him? Obviously he is not a prophet. He couldn’t be or He’d know what kind of woman is touching him. This woman is no better than a dog. I despise this sort of person.
The Prostitute: Looking people in the eye…that’s the hardest thing. Even when I am dressed like all of the other women, even with my head covered, they know. It’s all they see. My past. My sin. I feel like my eyes give away the depths of my shame. So I just look at the ground most of the time. It hurts less than seeing their hard stares. Men, women, it’s always the same look. It says, “I know what you are…and I despise you.”
But today, today I don’t care about the stares, or the whispers as I walk by. I don’t care about anything at all except for getting to him. I heard him teaching a while ago. I listened, with my whole heart, I listened. And Oh, the words he spoke! He spoke of forgiveness of sin. He spoke of peace with God. And I believed him. And I love him. Not as a woman loves a man, but as a drowning man loves air when his face finally breaks through the surface. I can breathe. There is hope. And I have not stopped thinking about him, about his words. And I know that if I can just get to him, if I can see his face and tell him…that I am sorry. I am so desperately sorry…that I would give anything to change my past. I believe that I will find peace. I believe that I can be forgiven. I’ve never dared to believe that before, but then again, I’d never heard his voice before.
The other women who worked the same street as I did told me I was crazy. “Why would you walk away from your only source of revenue? How will you survive without ‘working?’ Why on earth would you spend every last cent of your money on that insanely expensive perfume when you no longer have any income? What are you thinking?”
I am thinking that I have found a treasure. A treasure so rare, there could never be a high enough price on it. I am thinking that I will die, in my sin, if I do not get to him. I am thinking that his words are changing me. I am thinking that this love in my heart for him will consume me and I have to tell him, to show him that I believe. That he is my forgiveness. He is my peace.
My heart is racing. I am at the door. This is a Pharisee’s house. They hate me. I can’t let that stop me. My hands are shaking. I walk in. The Pharisee looks up. Startled. His eyes harden. I know that look. My legs are shaking. There he is. Jesus. Reclining at the table with his back to me. He turns to me. My chin is quivering now. Keep it together! I have to be able to explain why I am here! My legs give out. I am on the ground. I look up at him for a moment. His eyes are on mine. He sees me. He sees everything. He knows. And yet he holds me in his gaze, so gently. So softly. And he smiles. My heart breaks. Breaks with joy. Breaks with sorrow over my past. And I weep. I cry like I’ve never cried in my life. Every hurt, every rejection, every moment of burning shame comes pouring out on his feet. His beautiful feet. I love these feet. This man. He is everything to me. I pull out my perfume. I break it. There’s no turning back now. That was all that I had. I have nothing left…but I have everything.
“And He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.’” Lk.7:50